What is a Community Needs Assessment?

Individuals and families in every community encounter human services needs at some point in their lifetime. Knowing where and how to get help can be a challenge. For a teen considering suicide, a senior who needs assistance with daily living, or a recent immigrant who does not understand the health care system, figuring out how to get help can be confusing. Most cities are not direct service providers, however, many provide crisis response through emergency response, recreation through parks and recreation programs, referrals through websites or phone calls, and funding through competitive grant programs.

A Community Needs Assessment identifies the health and human services needs of a community through analysis of existing data sources, interviews, and outreach to service providers and community groups providing a baseline of information that the City and its partners can work from.

Alongside the community profile, we also assess policies across departments to understand the current approach to addressing residents' needs. We then develop preliminary ideas for City action, frequently in partnership with other jurisdictions and providers. We often work with the City to define its role, prioritize the needs it is best suited to address, and refine its grant program to align with the new approach. 

BERK has done health and human services needs assessments for the cities of Renton, Sammamish, and Tacoma, among others. We have also completed organizational assessments for Neighborhood House and Hopelink, as well as several Head Start providers.